As was the case throughout much of the NBA, Monday was media day for the Boston Celtics.
It’s been a news-filled past couple weeks for the franchise, so we checked in on what former Cal player Jaylen Brown — beginning his his seventh NBA season and still a month shy of 26 — had to offer reporters on a range of topics.
Asked about the exit of coach Ice Udoka, suspended for a year last week after carrying on what has been described as a consensual relationship with a female Celtics employee, Brown said he doesn’t know much more than anyone else.
“I think I was overall shocked by what was going on, a little confused, a little bit but a lot of the information wasn’t being shared with us or members of the team so you can’t really comment on it,” he said.
Brown said he hasn’t talked with Udoka since the suspension was announced.
On interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, Brown said, “I’m optimistic. I believe in Joe, Joe believes in me. In my conversations with him, I don’t think he sees a limit on my game. He’s coming in excited so I’m optimistic.”
Brown said he endorses the NBA’s league-wide retirement of jersey No. 6 as a tribute to the late Bill Russell, raised in Oakland but the winner of 11 NBA titles with the Celtics.
“I think that was an obvious one, what he stood for in this organization and this league meant a lot so to be commemorated in an appropriate light is just fitting for someone like him,” Brown said.
“He was a historical figure, he elevated the game of sports and how he used his platform to bring quality and life to a lot of situations where people were being closed-minded to and he wasn’t celebrated for.
“I think we forget that in that social climate that was going on during that time. For him to be able to stand above that and be able to speak on that platform and bring a lot of life to situations, we commemorate him.”
Brown told the Boston Globe he spent much of last season using a plant-based diet, along with some fish.
“The less weight you’re carrying, it helps prevent injuries down the line,” said Brown, who plans to continue the practice.
He said he began using fish oil to aid in his recovery from a bout with COVID-19.
Previously, ESPN revealed its annual ranking of the NBA’s top-100 players, and Brown climbed seven spots from last year to No. 22.
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Here’s what ESPN wrote about Brown:
Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Brown has yet to make an All-NBA team in his career. But if the Celtics can follow through on preseason expectations and finish the season with the best record in the East, Brown will all but certainly get the credit of both being in the All-NBA conversation and moving up these rankings.
One huge question for 2022-23: Can Brown improve as a playmaker and ball handler? That’s been something coach Ime Udoka has stressed both he and Jayson Tatum need to do since Udoka arrived last summer. But over the final three rounds of the playoffs, Brown averaged more than three turnovers per game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Heat and Golden State Warriors. For Boston to take that final step toward a championship, Brown needs to have to improve in those moments.
Here’s ESPN’s top-10, with the notable change being Kevin Durant’s drop from No. 1 to No. 8:
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
2. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
3. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
4. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
5. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
6. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
7. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
8. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
9. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
10. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Cover photo of Jaylen Brown attempting to block a shot by Stephen Curry by Bob DeCharia, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo